- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 14, 2009

For Christian Gomez, it’s good to be back. The Argentine midfielder, who rejoined D.C. United in a trade this week after a season with the Colorado Rapids, competed in his first training session with his old club Friday.

“I feel good to see my teammates again, and I’m ready to begin a new season,” Gomez said through an interpreter. “I know most of these guys, so I don’t think it will take long to get accustomed to them again.”

The 34-year-old Gomez said he was working to get back to peak conditioning.

“It’s obvious when you haven’t trained for a couple of months your body is shocked at first,” Gomez added. “I haven’t played with a group of players like I did today for a while.”

He left United last year over a contract dispute following four productive years with the club. He helped United win the MLS title in 2004 and was named league MVP in 2006.

“He brings that midfield role I think we were missing last year,” midfielder Domenic Mediate said. “He’s a playmaker. He creates so much opportunity on the field, and we are all happy to have him back.”

Gomez started off well at Colorado but saw his playing time dramatically reduced under new coach Gary Smith after Fernando Clavijo was fired at midseason.

“When Fernando Clavijo was there the game plan was to play through me,” Gomez said. “When he was let go and a new coach came on board, he wanted to play more of an English-style type of game and obviously that doesn’t suit me.”

He said it was tough to sit on the bench in the latter part of the season with the Rapids, especially after he started for the MLS All-Stars in a 3-2 win over West Ham United on July 24.

“It was difficult going from playing in the MLS All-Star Game and scoring a goal and 20 days later things change and you’re not playing,” Gomez said.

He started in 17 games for Colorado and scored three goals.

Gomez said he had no bad feelings about leaving United and being replaced by Marcelo Gallardo, the club’s first designated player.

“My contract had expired,” Gomez said. “I was looking for a contract that was in the best interests for me and my family, and another club was looking at me.”

Gomez said he didn’t feel any pressure on becoming United’s key playmaker after the team’s poor showing last season. United posted a 11-15-4 record in 2008 and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

“I think up to the point before he got hurt, Marcelo was playing well,” Gomez said. “But when he got hurt and Jaime Moreno got hurt, it changed the fortune of the team.”

United general manager Dave Kasper said a key factor in bringing Gomez back was that many of the United players wanted him on the team.

Added midfielder Fred: “We are all very happy. It’s very good for the team, and he will help us again this season.”

Gomez produced some big numbers with United, netting 39 goals in 97 games. In his last season before being traded to Colorado, he played in 27 games and tallied 10 goals and nine assists.

World Cup at RFK - The U.S. men’s national team will host Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 14 at RFK Stadium.

Convey is back - American midfielder Bobby Convey, who spent nearly five seasons with D.C. United before playing for Reading FC in England, has signed with the San Jose Earthquakes. At San Jose, Convey will be playing under Frank Yallop, who was a United assistant when Convey joined the league at age 16. Convey’s first trip back to RFK will be Sept. 27.

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